Pay it Forward

by Jasmine Liu (High School)

The Venerable Master Hsuan Hua once said, “We should remember to be grateful to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, as well as our parents and teachers.” As a student, I have come to understand that I should repay my teachers for the time, energy and commitment they put into my education. Upon reading this phrase said by the Venerable Master, however, I began to think. What does it mean, to “be grateful”? How can I show my gratitude to the teachers who have given me so much? The first thought that came to my mind was the one that typically came to everyone: to pay back. This, I soon discovered, was a faulty idea. How can anyone pay back energy? How can anyone repay time? I realized then, that to be grateful for the time, energy, and commitment my teachers and the Venerable Master sacrificed for my education was to pay it forward.

Knowledge is meant to be shared, not kept. By paying forward the knowledge my teachers gave me, I have come to understand why the Venerable Master emphasizes on the importance of student education. Since teaching is a learning process, it is also a mutual relationship, in which students learn from teachers, and teachers learn from students. In Instilling Goodness Developing Virtue Girls’ School, I am constantly learning from my teachers and peers. Teachers teach me to become a virtuous student. My peers teach me to think in different perspectives when I peer-review their papers. By learning from both my teachers and friends, I obtain precious knowledge. However, this knowledge should not be kept to myself. This knowledge should be shared with everyone. To learn is to improve, and improvement is the reason I am who I am today, a girl who upholds her principals. To pass on this body of knowledge – to pay this knowledge forward – is to teach others, and let others feel that same fulfillment. This, I believe, is the wish of the Venerable Master, to pass on his teachings and let others receive the benefits as well.

“Education is a nation’s best defense.” Venerable Master Hsuan Hua stresses this idea because it is through education that people learn to share with others the joy of discovering new possibilities. In the contemporary world, education is the key to opening many doors and options that can lead people to become great leaders. Nowadays, the world is in chaos because leaders do not make informed decisions that benefit the society. Leaders make choices for their own benefits, and seldom consider the effect it has on other countries and nations. These choices are now leading the world we live in.

The world now is in chaos because leaders do not think for others; they think only for themselves. This way of thinking is leading each nation to upgrade their national defense. No one knows when or where war will break out; no one knows if the nuclear bomb will be dropped in front of their doorstep. Consequently, this feeling of fear and suspicion is leading nations to their own downfall. Citizens suspect their leaders, leaders suspect other leaders, and the world becomes corrupted. To fix this, therefore, is to use moral education. In my education at the girls’ school, I learn that leaders are selfless and give voice to the people. They sacrifice themselves for the people, for the nation, for the world. Leaders hold their morals high, and abide by them. Venerable Master Hsuan Hua was inspired to establish IGDVS because he believed that educating the future generation will enable them to become better people who can contribute to the world positively; and to give the world a brighter future is paying forward Venerable Master’s teachings.

The future is in our hands when we decide to live the moment, and think for the future. Through Venerable Master’s teachings, I have learned that to repay a teacher’s kindness is to become a better person myself. Teachers teach to guide their students, and students move on to teach others, who in turn will become better people, and change the world one at a time.


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